Cambodia reported its first COVID-19 death as it grapples with fast-spreading community transmission and nearly 14 months after registering its first positive case in January 2020.
The Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that a 50-year-old man had died from the disease at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital the same morning. He worked for a foreign national, who was also positive for the disease, in Preah Sihanouk province.
“A Cambodian man, 50, died from COVID-19 at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital and is the first death in Cambodia,” the statement reads.
The Cambodian man tested positive for COVID-19 on February 27 and was sent to Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital for treatment.
Ngy Meng, director of the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, confirmed the first COVID-19 death but declined to elaborate further.
“I do not have more comments because the Health Ministry has released a statement,” he said.
Health Minister Mam Bunheng and ministry spokesperson Or Vandine could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
The development comes as Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the construction of crematoriums in the event of a COVID-19 death. Recently, a COVID-19-positive Chinese man died at the Phnom Penh Quarantine Center but health officials said the death was linked to drug use complications.
Cambodia has recorded 1163 total COVID-19 cases as of Thursday morning, 625 of which are linked to the February 20 community transmission, which has now spread to multiple provinces.